Being in ministry doesn't make our marriage immune to complacency.
It's way too easy for us to get so focused on ministry that we forget our responsibility to our marriage. God doesn't call you to focus on helping other people to the point that you ignore your spouse—our family is a higher priority!
When we're too busy to have time for our spouse, it's a sign of marriage complacency. When we don't have time to talk, or to just be together, we have allowed our marriage to become a low priority.
Take a realistic look at your marriage. Do any of the following apply to you?
- Infrequent expressions of kindness or affection.
- Rarely say, "I love you."
- When together, you're often distracted or not "present."
- Lazy with little things that show respect like taking the trash out, leaving a mess and so on.
- Superficial conversations.
- Apathetic or critical heart towards your spouse.
Here's the solution to complacency: Court your spouse. I'm convinced if there were more courting in marriage, there would be fewer marriages in court!
The Bible tells us this in Ecclesiastes 9:9 (MSG): "Relish life with the spouse your love."
You can't be complacent and relish life with your spouse at the same time. It's not possible. Here are three ideas for fighting complacency in your marriage:
1. Schedule a weekly date. I know your schedule is hectic. But make time for a weekly date. You can do it any time. It doesn't need to be on Friday or Saturday night. For years, Kay and I did it on Monday mornings. You don't need to spend much money on it either, but you desperately need the time alone together.
I'll take it one step further, too. Remember what you did on your first dates. Both of you need to prepare for these dates like you're not married. Pretend you're still in wooing mode. Take time to get ready. Pick out just the right clothes. Get to know what kind of date your spouse wants and prepare for it.
2. Plan adventures together. You had adventures together when you were courting. But I'm guessing you have fewer of those these days. Predictability kills marriages.
Too many of us plan adventures and fun into our lives after we finish our work—or worse yet, we plan to do it once we retire. You talk about the trip you'll take when life at the church calms down or when the kids get out of the house or when you retire. But you know this as well as I do, when you're in ministry, the work is never done.
So plan your adventure today. Do something together you've never, ever done before. Find a challenge you can meet together. Take a trip. Sign up for a class. Say goodbye to monotony.
3. Touch each other more often. Before you got married, you couldn't keep your hands off of each other. Now that you're married, you don't even hold hands. When that happens, the devil has won a great victory in your marriage.
Everyone needs physical affection. You may not feel affectionate because you're too tired, too stressed, have a health issue or are dealing with some unresolved resentment in your life. But don't wait until you feel affectionate to show affection to your spouse. Your feelings will always follow your behavior. Don't let a day go by without some kind of physical contact with your spouse.
You've probably poured your life into many marriages during your ministry. It's time to turn the attention to your own marriage. If you're going to go the distance in your ministry, you and your spouse must cultivate your life together.
Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church. His book, The Purpose Driven Church, was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also founder of pastors.com, a global internet community for pastors.
This article originally appeared at pastors.com.
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